Review Summary: While some riffs and patterns may seem familiar, “Attack of the Wolf King” gives Haste the Day a triumphant return to the top of the metalcore genre.
It’s very strange to see how years can work on things. Things can fall apart, friendships can die, or things could turn out to be even better. To the independent music scene, bands tend to become greatly affected by years. Many bands tend to split-up or go through constant member changes due to an individual being tired of the constant touring life. To Indianapolis-based band Haste the Day, they’ve perhaps seen the worst of it, yet keep striving through to produce listening music to their devout fan base.
In 2002, a bunch of young musicians released an EP titled “That They May Know You.” Jimmy Ryan, Brennan Chaulk, Mike Murphy, Jason Barnes, and Devin Chaulk impressed the metalcore scene with fan favorite tracks such as “Substance” and “Autumn.” With the metalcore scene growing, and the band’s rising popularity, Haste the Day signed a contract with Solid State Records.
In 2004, the band’s debut album, “Burning Bridges” was released. Containing a swarm of new songs and a re-recorded song, the album quickly rose to popularity with songs such as “The Closest Thing to Closure”, “Blue 42”, and their signature song, “American Love.” Burning Bridges was a breath of fresh air in the genre, showcasing unique ‘cougar like’ vocals, incredible clean singing and harmonies, and a good sense of how to use the ‘genre’s formula to one’s advantage.’ Burning Bridges provided a strong sense of intensity, while still showcasing the band’s melodic side.
2005 saw the band’s release of their follow up, “When Everything Falls’, the title track being the band’s most known song. The album featured a lot of similar features to Burning Bridges, but introduced the ‘intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown-chorus’ aspect to their music. While many other bands before them and at the time still used the formula, Haste the Day still was able to produce a solid follow up to Burning Bridges.
Enter 2007. Vocalist Jimmy Ryan departed Haste the Day to venture off into other ministry territories (and join the band ‘Trenches’). Haste the Day recruited new vocalist Stephen Keech into their line-up. The band, while even without Ryan still wrote new songs, produced “Pressure the Hinges” with Keech, marketing it as their most ‘epic’ record to date. The album had more songs than Burning Bridges or When Everything Falls, and even contained a ‘Special Edition.’ The album proved to be a great album, but also showcased a drastic change in sound for the band.
2008 saw the departure of guitarist Jason Barnes due to his non-belief in God anymore. Haste the Day, still looking to make a new record, recorded “Dreamer”, with most songs on the record written by Stephen Keech himself. It’s almost strange to write, but it seems as if both the Chaulk brothers knew this would be their last album with the band. Dreamer had strong songs such as “68” or “Mad Man”. While a great album, it didn’t sadly live up the previous efforts, due to the short length of the album.
In the time period before 2010, the Chaulk brothers left the band, leaving the only original member Mike Murphy, and Keech. Enter Dave Krysl, Scotty Whelan, and Giuseppe Capolupo. These new members of the band added a breath of fresh air into the Haste the Day formula, leading up to the release of “Attack of the Wolf King.”
At first listen of this album, I was personally very skeptical of their ‘new sound.’ First and foremost, I greatly missed hearing Brennan Chaulk’s voice for the choruses, and the guitar patterns, while good, didn’t get me as excited for their music to follow. After now listening to the album over 20 times, I can safely say that this IS a Haste the Day album.
Instead of diving into the general sound, I figure I'll review each track (be prepared for a lot of similar comments). The tracks are as follows:
1. Wake Up the Sun: A strong blistering lead riff cuts in to show the beginning of the album. With a strong improvement already in Keech’s screams, and a memorable chorus and breakdown, makes this a great opening to the album. 5/5
2. Dog Like Vultures: Opening with a ‘breakdown/leadline’ intro, the song progresses into another memorable chorus. While the bridge of the song lacks in comparison to the previous track, it still shows to be a decent song. 4/5
3. The Quiet, Deadly Ticking: Definitely showing more of their new sound, the lead guitar riffs, bass patterns, and drum patterns show a strong sense of musicianship. The chorus of the song is similar to “For a Lifetime” from When Everything Falls, using a bunch of vocal tracks compressed. 4/5
4. Travesty: Though supposedly the album’s single, this song, at least personally, is one of the weakest on the album. It’s a great song, showing incredible effort from every member of the band. It just sadly doesn’t capture what the previous tracks offered. 3/5
5. Merit for Sadness: One of the best on the album, this song essentially captures a great ‘medium’ sound…showcasing a bit of the older Haste the Day with a really catchy chorus, and the new ‘Haste the Day’ with dominant lead lines. 5/5
6. The Un-Manifest: Perhaps my favorite song from the album. The heaviest song on the album, and in story progression with Attack of the Wolf King’s concept, also marks around the climax of the story. Every musician steps up their game on this track, featuring time signature changes, almost a singing/chanting of the word “parasites” for the chorus, and having the heaviest breakdown on the album, “The Un-Manifest” shows fans of Burning Bridges/When Everything Falls that they can STILL enjoy the album. 5/5
7. The Place That Most Deny: A great follow-up to the previous song, featuring guest vocals from Micah Kinard from Oh, Sleeper. With a great chorus, and again, great musicianship, and a cool clean guitar part, “The Place that Most Deny” is another highlight of the album. 5/5
8. White as Snow: Kind of a break from previous tracks, this would be one of Haste the Day’s ‘experimental’ tracks. Every album, the band has one or two tracks that are stylistically different from their others…”White as Snow” being this album’s. The song though is catchy, and demonstrates that the band can perform other styles of music as well. 4.5/5
9. Crush Resistance: A killer intro with interesting guitar lines, “Crush Resistance” proves to be another good track. Though almost lacking a sense of chorus, it instead has a ‘chanting’ aspect throughout. While definitely interesting and having a form of surprise to it, it just doesn’t have the impact of some of the previous tracks. 3.5/5
10. Walk With a Crooked Spine: Continuing right after the previous track, this track serves as almost a great ‘closure’ to the album. With an awesome chorus line, excellent drum pattern changes and fills, and great guitar and bass work, this track shines on the album. 5/5
11. My Name is Darkness: Starting off with an electronic beat with guitar sounds going through it, the song sounds similar to “Outro” from Burning Bridges. About halfway through the song, the band kicks in and closes out Attack of the Wolf King. While a surprising closing track, it still proves to be a decent song. 4.5/5
If you pre-ordered the album, three bonus tracks were included. Haste the Day covered Black Eyed Peas’ “Meet Me Halfway”, which actually turned out to be an interesting cover, still sticking to the general melody of the song, while putting a bit of their touch in it. The other two are live versions of “Blue 42” and “Pressure the Hinges.”
Attack of the Wolf King again, shows that Haste the Day continues to keep their name as a top contender in the metalcore genre. The only personal complaint about the album is the downplay of bassist/vocalist Mike Murphy. His bass is audible, but his vocals sadly, are not. The only time when you can hear Murphy alone is at the beginning of “White as Snow.” Mike has a great singing voice, and the album would actually be phenomenal if his vocals were to be used as a lot of the chorus vocals, instead of Keech’s. While Stephen Keech has a great, trained high voice, a bit of change and contrast would be nice to the ears.
The album has a lot of riffs that may seem familiar. The band definitely draws influence from many other current metalcore bands, and some past bands as well. Though you might hear a point in a song where you'll think, "I've heard this somewhere before", there will be more than enough points where you'll be astounded to say, "that's new."
With bands constantly emerging into the scene, it’s almost hard to distinguish the ‘good’ from the ‘bad.’ Haste the Day’s “Attack of the Wolf King” shows that lyrically (telling a very interesting story about a lion protecting sheep from wolves) and musically, the band is still a huge name in the genre.